No stranger to both the local and regional cosplay community, Blacklash Jo has done many memorable cosplays such as Ada Wong from the Resident Evil series, Sweet Pea from Sucker Punch, Lady Sio from Afro Samurai and Oerba Yun Fang from Final Fantasy 13.
Our resident digital artist turned interviewer Ken Koh, catches up with Blacklash Jo to find out how she first started cosplay, the challenges she faces and how she chooses her characters to cosplay.
When was your 1st cosplay and from what series
Blacklash Jo: My first cosplay was in year 2009, at the SOY (Start of the Year) Event which was held in Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Being a huge fan of Archer & Rin from the Fate Stay Night series, I happened to chance upon a character mix of the two in an original fanart. I really liked the idea of Rin dressed in Archer’s battle gear and plus points for being drenched in pleather, even though our weather doesn’t agree all too well with it (haha). Anyway, I made up my mind in that instance and decided to kick start the hobby by making that my first cosplay. I made my first two props for the debut too, Archer’s blades named Kanshou & Bakuya from Balsa wood.
What are your main criteria/s when choosing a character to cosplay? and Why?
Blacklash Jo: Weapon wielding women of badassery. (Ken: oh yesh agreed)
I took one look at my Deviantart gallery and immediately thought, that line would be perfect, hahaha.
Okay honestly jokes aside, most of the characters that I pick have a certain characteristic or personality trait which I can hold an affinity to. I like to think that they are an extension of what I would have loved to become in another life, or maybe a different/darker side of me which I wish to portray. Also I believe, our childhood makes up almost everything of what we are today as an adult, reliving them in cosplay is something which is truly special to me. Characters from those series have a special place in my heart.
To some extent, I believe in suitability. That is a reason why my cosplays seem to revolve around characters which are more mature. Even though I completely agree that makeup works wonders and can change a person’s look dramatically with a well-practiced hand, I know myself and my features well enough to tell right away that the more you can relate to a character, be it physically, style and even any form of age relevancy, the better the end result will work out.
Plus, I am a huge sucker for guns, leather/pleather, medieval weapons, huge weapons (much to poor William’s misery), Victorian, medieval and military costumes and uniforms. A beautiful character design is such a turn-on and madly appealing, so those that fit into the above categories definitely perk my interests.
But above everything else, the main reason why I choose to cosplay a particular character is because I really love them for what they are.
How do you cope with your normal day to day life and cosplay?
Blacklash Jo: It’s pretty much the same as any other hobbyist with other hobbies. You have to come to an understanding that time has to be set aside reasonably for both so that it is a healthy mix for work, travel, play, games and likewise cosplay.
And as hard as I try, this usually works out really well until an event nears. Then all hell breaks loose and it’s crunch time. I blame myself and procrastination, there’s no excuse so yes I’ll try much harder from now.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when cosplaying?
Blacklash Jo: Cosplaying male characters! (Ken: cheeky grins)
I need so much more practice in this field. From the makeup (especially), to posing, to even simply just holding the air of any male character, cross-dressing is really not in my forte. Fortunately, I am so blessed to have so many friends who continue to encourage and advise me when I express my concerns I have to them.
Thank you so much dears, I won’t give up ;D! (Year 2014, here we come!)
Do you make the costumes and props yourself or how do you go about acquiring them?
Blacklash Jo: I am really bad in sewing, so I work very closely with my tailor on a base for my costumes and then have the more complicated details worked on and added later, myself. I love cloth and material shopping, it’s frustrating at times but such fun on a whole when you have managed to get your hands on the perfect shade and type of cloth that you have envisioned for your character.
I make all my props myself with heaps of help from my long suffering boyfriend, William (aka Rescend). My friends are such precious people too, it really warms the heart to know that they are such generous people in the community, ever ready to help and even lend a hand with equipment or even ideas to make the whole prop making process easier.
The internet is also your best friend when it comes to creative ideas, and I usually source out at least 2-3 tutorials similar to the weapon I am making by drawing inspiration from them. We then spend the next few days brainstorming on the materials, scaling and weight distribution. Usually we will do a mini mock-up before proceeding to make a full size one with the actual materials.
Why Cosplay? Why not modeling?
Blacklash Jo: If I had a choice, I would do both Modeling and Cosplay. Provided the fact that I work my way to the top as a very reputable model which of course lands me with loads of income that can fund many more projects in the hobby which I love.
It does sound like a splendid idea but unfortunately the modeling business is a very brutal industry. And the only way to be ahead in the game is to start really young, as young as 16. That and you need to have a winning ticket in the genetic lottery, height, distinctive features and the perfect proportions. There is so much more to Models than just glitter, fame and luscious clothes but this question is not about that so we will leave that for another time.
Cosplaying and Modeling are so different to begin with in the first place. I don’t think it is fair for either to be compared against each other or even to be called familiar. Though both may bring ideas and visions to life, cosplay is fueled by one’s true or shared passion where else Models are carriers of a statement, to invoke an idea by visual contact mostly hired by a professional development.
10 years down the road, do you still see yourself cosplaying?
Blacklash Jo:Possibly (: Who knows what characters the future will bring. And some habits die hard.
You are now thrown right into a game, fortunately equipped with the best gear and on maxed level. But alas, one day you come face to face a giant cockroach that flies and give birth to smaller cockroaches as an attack mechanism, what would you do?
Blacklash Jo: I will ready my flame thrower and BURN THEM ALL. NO MERCY.
Thank you for your time!
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